A Month In Ghana
I’d always wanted to travel, so when I got an email from Thrive Africa asking if I wanted to spend my summer in Ghana, I couldn’t help but say yes. I flew to Accra airport from London Heathrow, and despite arriving at the airport two hours early, we were still pushed for time after waiting in the ridiculously long queue for security. After running to the gate, we were delighted to find out that there was a lack of hot food on board and our plane was delayed. The flight was slightly uncomfortable; I was next to a big African man who clearly didn’t know the boundaries between his seat and mine.
We landed at 5am in Ghana and were immediately hit by intense humidity. The air had a particular smell; it’s hard to put it in words but it definitely wasn’t fresh. We took a shuttle to the main terminal building and after being hassled at immigration for a good while, I was eventually let into the country. Following this, I had a massive panic attack as there was no one waiting for us at the airport. Eventually our rep, Kwame, turned up and after picking up more volunteers, we began the long journey from Accra to Kumasi.
Our journey lasted seven long hours. Imagine 11 people all cramped up and sweaty in a bus intended for nine. It was hell, epecially since we’d been awake for 29 hours. However, this was all made better by the view out the window. There were street sellers everywhere you looked, holding every item from pillows to bread on their heads. We finally arrived at the volunteer house and were pleasantly surprised to see flushing toilets and decent showers.
After spending a few days in Kumasi getting to know each other, it was time for our 12-hour journey to Bolgatanga. In Bolga, we were helping orphan caregivers to plant produce in order to become more self-sufficient. Planting the seeds was tough work and I have the ultimate respect for people who do this every day, usually accompanied by a young child on their back. In our spare time we visited Paga Crocodile Pond where we got the chance to pose with a crocodile, visit various craft markets and hang out at a Ghanaian club – an entirely different experience from anything I’d previously associated with clubbing!
After a few days at Mole National Park and Kintampo Waterfalls, we headed back to Kumasi where we worked in various schools and the local orphanage. Each school had cleared a room out for us. Our jobs were to paint the walls, build and paint bookshelves, stamp books and put it all together to create a library. This was such rewarding work as we were met with huge gratitude from a tonne of enthusiastic kids when the libraries were completed. The most emotional part of my trip was our visit to Kumasi Orphanage. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see the amount of children who had nothing – not even parents. I fell in love with a three-week-old orphan; I would visit him every morning and feed him. I was an absoloute mess when I had to say goodbye.
The last part of our trip was a visit to the beach city of Cape Coast. This was our chance to relax after our month of hard work. We went to Kakum National Park and survived a 350m high canopy walk. Our last few days in Ghana were quite emotional; I met some amazing people on this trip and it was harder than I thought to say goodbye to them.
My trip to Ghana was by far the best experience of my life. It was so rewarding to actually go somewhere and help someone less fortunate than myself. I am definitely a different person since I’ve returned – I am more grateful for the privileges that I have and I am far less tolerant of people who moan about trivial things. I cannot stand when people waste food. You always hear the line “There are children starving in Africa!” but you can never actually understand the extent of it until you have physically experienced it yourself.